Washington State League One Event

Today was League One in Washington State. We’re in the Knuth League with about 12 other teams. Our new team members found it really exciting, and a bit nerve racking. Ines and Emily got to learn about how a league competition works, and how to go through inspections, as well as what a competition is like.

The day started out with a practice match, to illustrate how much time there would be between autonomous and tele-op periods. Our autonomous worked perfectly (55 points) and scored the glyph in the right cryptobox column. It was our top score for the day, unfortunately it wasn’t a scored match.

Throughout the day, we worked on small improvements to the glifter. The biggest improvement being the addition of a couple pieces of cardboard to the glyph holders, making the top of the opening narrower, so the glyphs didn’t slip.

It was really exciting to see our robot running during autonomous every match. Our drivers have been getting a lot more practice at this competition, and on the ferry, making up for the limited amount we managed to squeeze in before the competition.

The photo shows us celebrating with Cyborg Ferrets (FTC 7198) after match 9.

FIX IT with Cyborg Ferrets
FIX IT with Cyborg Ferrets

Congratulations to Whitby Island Wildcats (FTC 7676) who are the top team in the Knuth League!

British Columbia Teachers Conference, Oct 20-21

FIX IT set up a FIRST exhibit at the British Columbia Teachers Conference in Vancouver. In partnership with FIRST Canada FIRST Robotics Competition representatives, we pulled off a pretty exciting display. Teachers were encouraged to drive small driver bots made with FTC technology, and talk about how their students could participate in a FIRST program. Many of the 6,000 teachers came through the exhibit during the 15 hours of the event.

BC Teacher's Convention

This event was a great chance to collaborate with the Vancouver FTC team, Elgin Robotics, and their students came to help us run the FIRST table and driver bot stations. We invited four FLL teams to come and practice with their robots on the table, and to help illustrate the FLL game to teachers. Unfortunately, none of the Vancouver FRC teams could participate.

It was really interesting to see how many teachers had heard of FIRST before, and how many we had the pleasure of introducing to the exciting opportunity. Often, teachers wanted to know how their students would be able to participate, but also how it was run, more as a club or a class. It was a great opportunity to practice our FIRST elevator pitches, developed during the hours of talking to educators.

One of the highlights was meeting the superintendent for SD 61, Victoria! He was very interested in getting FIRST programs in their schools, which are currently under-represented at our Championship.

Boeing Tour – Sept. 8th

On the way to the Washington State Kick Off, we were given the exceptional opportunity to tour the largest building in the world– the Everett Boeing Manufacturing Plant. One of our alumni was able to join us for the tour, and it was also a chance to hear about his first year in engineering at University.

Boeing Tour

One of the main aspects we amazed by was how fast they could build such large planes in such an orderly fashion, including all the complicated safety procedures. It was also interesting to learn about all the autonomous robots and mechanisms they’ve been introducing to improve efficiency and safety.

One of our guides had been involved in some of the stress tests for the new composite wings.  He was able to explain the details of the process as well as how and why it was different from previous wing testing.

We actually went an hour overtime, since we got such a unique opportunity to tour the floor of the Boeing Plant. All in all, it was a super entertaining and educating tour, and we hope to receive the opportunity to learn about such an interesting place again.

Let’s Help Support Texas!

Hello FIRST teams!

At the end of August, many areas in Texas were affected by Hurricane Harvey. FIRST in Texas has asked for the support of other teams, to help teams in areas hit by the hurricane.  We could all make sure that they don’t have to do any fund raising this season, when the money in their community should be going to things like food and shelter.

FIX IT would like to issue a challenge to all FIRST teams.  We’ve donated our team number ($34.91) to the FIRST in Texas Harvey Fund, and we’re challenging you to do the same.

Donate here: Help Texas!

We need your help to spread the word.  Please post it on social media channels.  Ask the organizers if you can make an announcement at your local Kick-off.  If another team has already signed up for your Kick-off, get creative and find another way you can get the word out.

Please fill in the form, to show how you can help: Sheet

Thank you and please share this link!

FIX IT 3491

Dean’s House and Funway

In the afternoon, all the teams were invited to Dean Kamen’s house for dinner. Even though we had been warned about the grandeur of Dean’s house, we were amazed by the sheer number of gadgets that are displayed throughout the house. It was practically a museum! Apparently, his library has a secret passage to DEKA. Unfortunately, we couldn’t spot it. Dinner was in the hangar where Dean’s Helicopter normally is (it was sitting outside today).

Dean Kamen's Helicopter

Every year, the DEKA engineers create a cool and sophisticated gift for Dean Kamen. It’s called “DEKA Christmas”! Our favourite gift was a floating light bulb that could still turn on while floating. There was also the “World’s Most Inefficient Orchestra” which super-heated plasma to make sounds, the doorbell rung by electromagnetic cannons, and much more.

After the dinner, we went to Mel’s Funway with Combustible Lemons (the St. Louis Inspire Award Winners). We ended up spending four hours there and had an amazing time. Go-Kart racing was our favourite activity and, due to some excessively aggressive driving, we had some exciting crashes. Laser Tag was a free-for-all blur of fluorescent lighting and fun shootouts. Thankfully, in between the intense activities, we played a few rounds of Mini-Golf.

Tonight was a great way to end the Festival of Champions.

FIRST Festival of Champions Tournament Day

Today we attended the first annual FIRST Festival of Champions in Manchester NH. It was an awesome event.

The winning alliances from both Houston and St Louis were preparing together to perform as well as possible. The FTC Alliance from Houston captained by team 724 Redneck Robotics, team 4216 Rise of Hephaestus, and team 8651 Wait For It worked together to hone their strategy, especially in autonomous. Redneck and Rise of Hephaestus worked out their autonomouses to feed particles to score again. The St Louis Alliance captained by 8686 Height Differential, 6929 Data Force, and 5916 BoBots had cool robots. All three teams had a colour of Orange and so they called themselves the Orange alliance, they even had special shirts made up.

The matches were very exciting. Ultimately the Houston Alliance won it in four matches.

FRC was also happening at the same time. There were some very exciting games. Houston won the first two matches but then St Louis returned to win three in a row ultimately taking it with world record score of 588.

We also got a chance to meet the Combustible Lemons the team that won the Inspire Award in St Louis.


Festival of Champions Day 2

Today we started our day with a nice breakfast at a cafe near the FIRST headquarters. From there we drove to a power plant called Amoskeag Hydroelectric Station. In addition to the historic plant, there was a visitors centre and nature house, where we saw several local species on display and learned about local ecological concerns. There also was a fun interactive 3D display that used an ultrasonic sensor to project a map on sand which would change depending on how high the sand was moulded.

Next, we had a short tour of Dean’s company Deka, where a manager explained some of the displays in their lobby including the Segway!  We then moved out the parking lot where a Deka Engineer, demonstrated a new kind of wheel chair called the iBot. This wheel chair had several different angle measuring sensors; these helped it to drive over all sorts of terrain including stairs, raise and lower the user, and keep the wheels on the centre of gravity.

After that, we had lunch and then choose to go to the SEE Science Museum beside the FIRST headquarters. This museum claims that it houses the largest permanent Lego display in the world, which we found super interesting. Other than the Lego display, the science museum had many interesting interactive exhibits which we had a lot of fun using as well.

Right beside the science centre was a museum on the history of the cotton mills in Amoskeg, Manchester, New Hampshire which was the largest textile producer in the world when it was running.

The Houston teams that are competing at this event had their practice session on the competition field in the afternoon and we were invited to come watch. We had several good discussions with them and enjoyed seeing the robots in action.

Tomorrow will be the final competition of the season and we are all hoping to have restful evening tonight before the big day. Check out the live stream between 7:30 – 9:30 AM P.S.T. through a link on this website or through FIRST’s website.

Festival of Champions Day 1

Today was our final day of touring around Boston. We explored the town of Salem before driving to Manchester for the Festival. We arrived at Manchester and took a short break at our hotel. Pretty soon, however, we were off to attend the evening’s reception!

It was great to finally get into the FIRST HQ and see where part of the game videos are filmed. FIRST hosted a great event; there was a ton of food and people to talk to. We talked with Combustible Lemons and found out out more about their team and some of the Winning Alliance teams. With the Festival being the first time that alliances are known in advance, we are curious to know how the competing teams have spent the last two months. We’re sure it will be an exciting set of matches on Saturday!


Team in front of FIRST HQ

At 7:00 pm, Dean, Woody, and Don sat down for the “Fireside Chat”. We got to hear their life stories and their answers to a series of questions from the audience. One of our questions to Dean (“Have you ever fallen off a Segway? How did you come up with the brand name?”) was included in the Fireside Chat. (The answers were “Yes.” and “I don’t know.”) Our other favourite question was:

If you three had an FTC/FRC team, what would your name be?
(They had a difficult time coming up with this one) “Zotbot”.

Tomorrow, we’ll be touring DEKA in the morning (with some new team T-Shirts!) and attending a social event hosted by local FIRST teams!